Today's Papers

A Time To Kill

Three papers lead with the latest on Timothy McVeigh’s execution, scheduled for 8 a.m. ET Monday. The Wall Street Journal’s news box leads with the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow the videotaping of the execution. Lawyers in an unrelated case argued that such a tape could prove that lethal injection exceeds the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The court handed down its decision without comment and did not release the votes of the individual justices. The Los Angeles Times leads with reports that McVeigh’s attorneys released a new set of letters in which the defendant explains his decision to bomb the Murrah federal building but does not apologize to his victims’ families. The Washington Post leads with reports that McVeigh will make a final public statement before his execution, but attorneys declined to say whether he would speak from the death chamber or authorize them to release a statement after his death. The New York Times stuffs that and instead leads with an article announcing the end of American dominance in climate science. American scientists must now visit Europe or Japan to perform sophisticated climatic studies: There they can find more powerful computers and governments willing to devote millions more to the cause.

McVeigh asked that little information about his final hours become public, but the papers piece together a few bits. Both the NYT and LAT noted that McVeigh’s early morning move to a cell near the death chamber marked the first time he had a full view of the moon in years. The WP reports that McVeigh spent much of Sunday napping and chatting with attorneys. The LAT says he watched television and wrote goodbye letters to friends. The LAT and NYT get McVeigh’s last meal: two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream, which he ate alone. At 6 a.m. ET, a team will escort him to the death chamber where 10 media witnesses, 10 victim witnesses, and four witnesses selected by McVeigh and government officials will watch the execution. One of the former soldier’s attorneys tells the LAT, “Quite frankly, he is ready to die.”

Over the last 10 years, the federal government’s financial commitment to climate science has tailed off, says the NYT’s lead. The slowdown hasn’t altered U.S. policy, but it has left our scientists out of the international global warming dialogue. President Bush will use a Rose Garden speech today to call for increased funding for climate research and urge coordination of American research efforts with those abroad. But the real problem is that existing research is stretched across a mishmash of government agencies–none of which, incidentally, have the computing power to carry out effective research in the first place. The plight of the American climate scientist, says one academic, is like that of a “nearsighted person who’s lost his glasses.”

The flurry of stories about the hardships facing Mexican immigrants continues. On Sunday, the LAT led with reports that a number of immigrants are dying of thirst and starvation in the deserts of the Southwest. Also on Sunday, the NYT fronted a story about one religious group that constructs oases to save at least of handful of these immigrants. Today, the WP fronts a profile of the very same group. To recap: Humane Borders, a volunteer organization that pulls in members from churches and immigrants rights groups, has erected four water stations in the Arizona desert. Members say the work is a religious imperative. Border Patrol agents, on the other hand, worry that word of these oases could tempt even more immigrants to strike out across the desert. Readers will have a striking sense of having covered this ground before.

A WP fronter reports that Bush’s five-day Europe trip will mark the re-emergence of the strategy he used when pushing for his tax cut: listen to opponents’ concerns but never swerve from the original plan. But this time the issue is missile defense, an issue Europeans cite as an example of America’s “arrogant unilateralism.”

The NYT goes above the fold with a story that says Bush has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Europe. Europeans have already tagged him as someone intent on “polluting the skies, breaking treaties and flirting with new arms races.” But Europe never seems to warm to a new American president very quickly, and, the paper speculates, these conflicts may stem more from the normal U.S.-Europe rift about the role of government than a specific disagreement with Bush. What’s the fallout for the president? Support from the Economist, a magazine that endorsed Bush in November, is tepid; the usual gang of anti-American protestors will appear; and–oh, the indignity!--Bush has been lampooned by a “French satirical puppet show.”